Small Town Hospitality in Swedeburg, Nebraska

This past Sunday I got a true taste of small town life in the country! What to do when someone invites you to a church picnic of a church you’ve never attended? Go, partake, and enjoy small town hospitality! It was a beautiful day. The smell of pulled pork tantalized the senses. And the music took me back to younger days gone by.

Blessing #602 ~ small town hospitality

Thank you Pastor Steve and  Swedeburg Covenant Church for allowing us to worship and celebrate 135 years with you!

Camping in the front yard…

Sounds like a good idea, right?

Ahhh…memories of my childhood…running around the backyard with friends until 3 in the morning…practical jokes that weren’t so funny to some…eating junk food by the bucketfuls. Glad to pass on the tradition.

The kids were super excited tired and in pajamas, ready for bed by 6:30…amazing! Music by the fire, smores, smoke smell in the hair…what’s not to love? Well…there was this amazingly horrific thunderstorm of doom that ruined it at around 11:30 p.m…right when all the little ones had finally nodded off. Luc woke up in his bed the next morning crying because he wasn’t in the tent anymore. Lucky for mommy, they were all so tired from staying up so late that not a one of them woke up to the storm. Now Ivy…she’s a different story!

Blessing # 601 ~ The ability to allow your kids to stay up late and sleep in late in the middle of the week. School? What school? *Wink!* Just one more reason why we homeschool!   

Spontaneously Captured

My blessings this week dwell on the spontaneity of the moment.

There have been several random “hurry-and-grab-the-camera” moments that don’t really fit anywhere photo category-wise yet are precious enough to save! Blessings that one day I will look back upon and smile at a memory that could’ve easily slipped away!

Blessings # 591 ~ 600

Rainbow before a summer storm.

Sweet Mike stopping by to show us.

Little girl wanting picture taken.

Turkey family visiting our front lawn.

First banana finger foods.

Happy boy smiling.

Plethora of summer produce.

No room in the fridge…using school book baskets.

Little boy bug surprises.

Haircut-of-necessity from Little-Girl-Cuts-Alot

Fresh Perspectives

What do you do when your work never leaves you?

It is truly a blessing to be a stay-at-home mommy  yet sometimes the amount of work can start choking the life out of you. It is always there…always a constant. You do and do and do some more but there is always one more mess…one more thing that needs to be done.

I was feeling suffocated.

I needed out.

So I walked away.

And, as the Lord is EVER so good, He met me where I am and blessed with fresh perspective.

A evening stroll ~ blessings # 568 ~ 590

~ walking with the littles who are still so excited to be with mommy and daddy

~ allowing the older two to spread their wings a bit with the first tastes of freedom at home alone

~ a grouping of oak leaves striving for that summer green but remaining in a beautiful fall coat

~ milkweed on the side of the road

~ the anticipation of looking for monarch caterpillars on said milkweed come August

~ unexpected wildlife…

~ watching a meadowlark sing

~ seeing a woodpecker in his glorious black and white and red coat searching for evening insects

~ the deer peeking out from among the brush

~ the quench of thirst from a pit stop for soda

~ searching for tadpoles

~ seeing how a yarrow flower is both one beautiful big flower head made up of hundreds of tiny, perfectly detailed flower heads

~ a meadow in our own back yard

~ picking flowers for mommy

~ finding a mommy and daddy goose with their gosling

~ watching the chase

~ seeing the prize

~ finding a prairie coneflower amongst the weeds

~ the gift of picking wildflowers

~ the walk back home

~ legs tired from muscles working the hills

~ the land spread out in front of me

~ a glorious sunset

Psalm 148

Praise the LORD.

Praise the LORD from the heavens, praise him in the heights above.

Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his heavenly hosts.

Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars.

Praise him, you hightest heavens and you waters above the skies.

Let them praise the name of the LORD, for he commanded and they were created.

He set them in place for ever and ever; he gave a decree that will never pass away.

Praise the LORD from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,

ligtning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding,

you mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars,

wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds,

kings of the earth and all nations, you princes and all rulers on earth,

young men and maidens, old men and children.

Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted;

his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.

Garage Sale Blessings

I have continually found that when you pray before embarking on a shopping trip of any nature, the Lord will tend to bless you in ways you couldn’t have imagined before starting. As weekly blessings tend to go, this past week was a biggie! With the garage sale behind me I am finding places for our new things and realizing how amazingly God provides in one day.

Birthday Money = $125 – $11.00 kids allowance = $114

135 Blessings 

Blessings #422 ~ 557

Most Lucrative Find ~

  • 8 brand new Chinese prefolds for a quarter each!!!!!
  • 2 brand new Lands End dresses, one for Ivy and one for Delilah (these are our favorite dresses for the girls…high quality soft cotton that have endured all kinds of stains, washings, and being passed down through 3 girls)

Baby Gear ~

  • 1 Bouncer for baby
  • 2 extra teethers for a baby who bites more than all our other children combined!

~ Clothes ~


For Baby Eli ~

  • 2 summer onesies
  • 2 T-shirts
  • 3 pair of winter pants
  • 4 winter pajama sleepers
  • 1 long sleeve onesie (yes, it does say “I’m woolly cute”!)
  • 1 pair beginning walking shoes
  • 1 medium cloth diaper cover

For Ivy ~

  • 2 pair of super cute polka dot shorts
  • 5 pair soft cotton summer shorts (great for potty training or pajamas)
  • 1 cotton nightgown
  • 1 winter hoodie sweater
  • 2 overnight training pants


For Delilah ~

  • 1 soft cotton summer shorts
  • 1 pair mary jane shoes for next winter
  • 1 pair summer sandals for next summer

For Luc ~

  • 3 soft cotton summer shorts (for day or night wear)

For Lily ~

  • 1 winter pajama pants
  • 6 soft cotton summer shorts (for day or night wear)
  • 1 winter sweater

For Gabe ~

  • 1 athletic sport pants
  • 2 soft cotton summer shorts (for day or night wear)
  • 3 T-shirts
  • 1 short-sleeve church shirt

For Mom ~

  • 2 summer T-shirts
  • 6 new cardio-strength training DVD’s (one with the promise of defying gravity of which my now-over-35-metobolic body is defying!)
  • 1 new diaper bag/purse

And the surprise we found in that new bag ~

To which Lily confiscated the Hello Kitty Lipgloss, Vanilla perfume, and notepad and Lilah took the mittens and necklace.

In the Home ~

  • A single shabby chic frame
  • 1 Full size flannel florel bed set for the girls bed this winter (we only had boy colors last year from switching around beds)
  • 1 4-set napkins (eventually I’d like enough to replace paper towels)

In the Kitchen ~

  • 12 glass ramekins of which we will use for child-size soup, fruit, or ice cream servings and which fit perfectly on our child-size plates.
  • 1 bread guide w/electronic slicer (The slicer is a bonus. I already have a great bread knife but have had my eye out for a guide for over a year to make our homemade bread more kid-friendly.)
  • 2 Easter cookie cutters, 2 Christmas cookie cutters
  • 1 Bacon Press (I’ve always wanted one of these! They are very farm-girlish…now I just need that side of pork!)
  • 1 bread pan (because I do my bread in 2 week batches)
  • 2 cookbooks with recipes for scratch cooking and using seasonal veggies:


~ The Home Book of French Cookery

 ~ The Farmers’ Almanac Cook Book


Indulgences ~

  • 1 My Little Pony House with ponies and accessories (Ours broke this past winter and is now discontinued. Our girls play with these ponies daily!)
  • 1 Wooden Tool Set (for Luc who has been asking for one since his birthday in January)
  • 1 fairy ballet costume (because you can never have enough!)
  • Zoe Girl CD for my Lily-bear who loves to dance
  • Veggie Tales: The Wonderful Wizard of Ha’s DVD

~ Homeschool ~

 ~ $5 Bookshelf ~

Manipulatives ~

  • 1 Gear Puzzle
  • 1 Counting Puzzle (with 3 possible ways to solve the puzzle!)

Phonics & Writing ~

  • A set of Phonics Readers (will go great with our Bob books)
  • 2 Dry Erase Tracing Alphabet Pads (one for Luc and Lilah)
  • A Dry Erase Animal/Alphabet Tracing book

History ~

Geography ~


Social Studies ~

Nature Study ~

  • A flower press (of which I will be replacing the homemade one that I made for myself in high school…finally one with clamps and a guidebook for the kids!)
  • 1 extra clipboard (we use these for sketching outside)

Science ~

The Classics ~

The Bible ~

Crafts ~

  • 1 huge bundle of craft paper (construction and cardstock) for $1
  • Shapes To Cut Out, Color and Make (Reproducible shape templates great for a rainy day or a geometry math lesson!)


For Fun Books ~

  • Roald Dahl’s Even More Revolting Recipes (fun kid-friendly recipes from all his books…Gabe checked this one out at the library before and loved it.)
  • My Little Pony book with audio CD
  • Dora and Blues Clues, a few board books, and a new (not-tattered) Goodnight Moon (Ivy is in heaven!)
  • The Biggest Book of Knock Knock Jokes Ever (in hopes that my 3 and 5 year old start telling jokes that make sense!)
Pretty good haul, don’tcha think?
Joining Multitude Mondays at A Holy Experience

Things Unseen…

Note ~ I wrote this post back in August of 2010. I think I meant to publish it or add a photo first before publishing. I’m not sure. But somehow it escaped posting and ended up sitting in my dashboard. While cleaning up I found it, reread and thought this is still just as important to me this day! Enjoy!

BLESSING # 421 ~ That He sees and that is enough

Wow…I am speechless as I read Ann’s lovely words, words that soothed my soul today. Our day was full and there is still more to do. I think about this blog often and have words in my head, sometimes even pictures on my camera. But time slips as my family priority intrudes and takes over. So, for now, I will give a glimpse of Ann’s insightfulness (PLEASE visit her site and read the rest…a balm for your day!) as I ponder my own priorities and the dark recesses of my heart.

Ann’s wise words:

Who can see the spelling lessons? The breakfast made this morning? The next chapter of The Yearling read, the last child rocked early in the morning, the prayers whispered in the middle of the morning? I try in a week and a lot may get done, but the right things?

I think how I want a crumbless, smudgeless, spotless house, a house with empty laundry baskets, empty sinks, empty garbage cans, with floors like mirrors and mirrors like water, and a pantry lined neat like books in the study and pies lining the counter like sweet children all in a row…

I want things seen.

The seen things can be idols…

Too often, sadly, I want product, others to see product, so they can see: I have worth. Stinking idols…

Again, today, I must: Slay the idol of the seen…

I’ll whisper the mantra that orders all priorities:

Unseen. Things Unseen. Invest in Things Unseen.”

~ 2 Cor. 4:18

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.


My Greatest Blessings

It seems only appropriate after Mother’s Day to reflect on being a mother and where my blessings truly lie.

Spring flowers are beautiful but fading.

But these…

…oh these children!

How they make my heart ache with a love so deep

They are the balm over their own chaos!

Counting Blessings # 414 ~ 420

#414 ~  first born sons

#415 ~ a daughter growing into a lady

#416 ~  my tankster who is the biggest softie of them all

#417 ~  our fairy changeling

#418 ~  crabby abby

#419 ~  my breath of fresh air

#420 ~  homemade cards that will not be put out by the curb like Hallmark recyclables

Joining Ann @ A Holy Experience

Perfect Timing

His timing is perfect. You’d think I’d know that by heart after all these years. But still I fret and worry and wonder in vain. Our life is clicking into a lifestyle we’ve been praying for and yearning for yet not believing would come to pass. Yes, there is also the diligence of our hard work and perseverance of staying the course but if not for His perfect timing of seemingly random events all our hard work would not have been enough! So after a day of celebrating the greatest miracle of the Ressurection and contemplating the severity of our penalty paid I feel blessings pouring out in abundance that I must write down before they slip away into the land of forgetfulness.

#391 ~ that I know that I know that His love is for me!

#392 ~ first time Easter egg hunts

#393 ~ fields of yellow spring dandelions

#394 ~ Easter that fits the whole family

#395 ~ marshmellows the size of my fist for roasting

#396 ~ burnt hotdogs over a campfire

#397 ~ camp smoke smell on next days clothes

#398 ~ dressed in Sunday best

#399 ~photo smiles that will tickle grandma’s soft heart

#400 ~ husband who speaks plainly in truth even when I don’t want to hear.

#401 ~ schedules that long to guide our days

#402 ~ a finished menu plan

#403 ~chocolate Easter mouths dripping

#404 ~ the van of all vans to fit our forever family

#405 ~ homemade rainbow popcorn that beats Vics hands down!

#406 ~ bravery reached for

#407 ~ awe at others striving

#408 ~ tenacity to try ourselves

#409 ~ new cousins playing

#410 ~ baby faces growing up

#411 ~ job security and long-term friendships

#412 ~ building community

#413 ~ creative work that feeds the soul

Joining Multitude Monday at A Holy Experience

Needing to Count

I need to count today. I come to this day depleted and tired, cranky with only words that tear down instead of lift up. My children feel it. I feel it. It is like a snowball rolling through my days picking up negativity along the way. Two weeks of sick kids. Kids who were healed getting reinfected and worse then before. The house falling farther and farther behind. More laundry then I’ve done in forever when I already do a lot of laundry. And me sick, down for the count, with them.

So I need to count to restore. To remind myself of His goodness. To remind me that we thank when He gives and we thank when He takes away. To remind my selfish spirit that it cannot stay.

#365 ~ new baby teeth at four months old

#366 ~ coos and smiles just for me

#367 ~ little ones who look to me for…well, everything

#368 ~ being sick on hubby’s day off

#369 ~ quality coffee that doesn’t upset the stomach

#370 ~ a husband who cooks good soul food so I don’t have to

#371 ~ two cars that work and allow our family freedom

#372 ~ this house that is blessing us and allowing us to save

#373 ~ all the learning tools I need for my children already under my roof

#374 ~ father son football

#375 ~ getting to go back outside after dinner

#376 ~ getting out the spring baskets

#377 ~ children playing with birds and chicks and bunnies

#378 ~ a renewed love of all things Peter Rabbit

#379 ~ the way a Beatrix Potter book fits so perfectly in little hands

#380 ~ kids seeing first prairie fire

#381 ~ leaf beautifully charred

#382 ~ taking walks by myself

#383 ~ the soft hairs on a single blade of grass

#384 ~ taking pictures of spring

#385 ~ trees framing moon

#386 ~ a husband who takes kids outside to play so mom can rest

#387 ~ good conversation with the one you love most

#388 ~ a quiet house for prayers to flow

#389 ~ documentaries

#390 ~ deer frolicking in the sunset

Naming Love

I’m on chapter three of Ann’s new book and the thing that strikes me is the act of doing in naming. It is not that the doing is outrageous, extraordinary, magnificent. It is precisely that the doing is mundane. This naming of mundane is naming love…God’s love to us, our love to each other. Unconditional, sacrificial love…this thanksgiving that we do names that love and only then can we recieve. This is what resonated most with me in this chapter. In order to recieve the joy, the gift, we must first name it and take it out of mystery. Move it from insignificance to most significant.

Today I will name love.

Gifts #341 ~ 364

~ a word of encouragement when I am floundering

~ being little one’s security even when not convenient to the moment

~colored noodles pastel hidden in playroom

~ enjoying snow even without the camera

~ sunlight streaming across handwashed dishes

~ vinegar that softens and clarifies the toughest minerals

~ praying while working

~ This Is The Stuff and learning patience

~ remembering gentle tones one minute at a time

~ a husbands story and tithe blessings

~ fixing my favorite rocking chair

~ eating out and bearing fruit

~ life group communities

~ light play and sunbeams across dirt-stained floors

~  frolicking deer and honking geese

~ warming bare naked feet on deck wood in rare 60 degrees weather

~ making snow dragons

~ writing love lists

~ slipping warm socks on in the cool of the evening

~ seeing the firsts…hands reaching, muscle memory forming

~ upsizing clothing on soft, healthy baby fat skin

~ money blessings for a camera

~ the smell of spring through my windows

~ first juicy drips of outside grilled burger


Potty Training Mommy

We started potty training Ivy today. A two-fold reason, the first being that she is 21 months and showing all the cues (telling us when she pees and poos her diapers, showing an interest in sitting on a potty when her big sis does, etc.) and the second being that our hard water is rendering our waterproof diaper covers useless. I found a wonderful soap to use on cloth diapers formulated specifically for our hard water except that it’s expensive, well the shipping and handling anyway, and it makes Ivy break out. So my choices, diapers that work and make her break out versus diapers that don’t work and leak through all her clothes but leave her bottom rash-free. I took the third road of chucking the diapers and potty training early. By early I mean earlier then I was planning which was when the weather warmed up and she can casually run around in her undies without me doing 50 million loads of laundry from beginning pee accidents in pants.

I’ve discovered that I am not good at the potty training thing. All of my children are late, late potty trainers with very stubborn wills and all have had a history of regression that takes at least a year or more to pull out of. So, this being my fifth round, I’ve decided to take a different tactic.

  • Pray, pray, and pray some more! Not for common sense or the how-to’s (I’ve read a million books on those), but on keeping my patience, using a gentle tone, not getting frustrated too early, not giving up too soon, and staying consistent.
  • Use this as a positive reinforcement for Delilah (3 – still potty training) and Luc (5 – finally just finished potty training!!!) by including them in the process and making it about all three of them.
  • Mommy training. I don’t expect Ivy to get it in the two weeks we will be concentrating on it, I more expect me to habit-train myself on taking her and being consistent with the work so that when the two weeks are up and my normal schedule resumes we don’t fall off the bandwagon.
  • Set reasonable expectations. For Ivy, stick to practicing sitting on the potty and making it positive and the transition to big girl panties. For Delilah, getting consistent potty use and practicing getting pants back on in a timely manner. For Luc, continuing with encouragement for jobs well done.
  • Maintain the schedule.

It is this first and last point that has made the biggest difference today. Giving it over to God constantly has made me keep an even keel (#321). And the gentle nudgings of the Holy Spirit have helped me encourage in places I wouldn’t otherwise, especially with the older two. It is easy for me to ignore little things with them because they should already know better (i.e. wiping themselves, washing hands, flushing, etc.) but I have treated them both as if they are training for the first time in order to keep it positive for Ivy and the praise is totally lifting them up, making them feel included, and keeping them on track (#322). Praying has also helped keep me from distraction (#323). As I am tempted to just do a quick kitchen cleanup the Holy Spirit reminds me that we have a schedule of chores and let’s just let that be enough. When I am tempted to hop on the computer because the baby needs to nurse the Holy Spirit whispers in my ear that I will just let time slip away and then that one-on-one interaction with Ivy will be broken.

Before in training I had taken book reccomendations on completely clearing my schedule and devoting all my attention to the trainee. That sounds great in theory (and may be with a first child) but is not practical with trainee number five! When I’ve tried this in the past then chaos ensued. The littles would make messes everywhere because they had unlimited freedom with no boundaries. And the older children would make messes everywhere with their well-meaning crafting and negligence of chores. I would end up frustrated and potty training would be derailed as I tried to pull some semblence of order back into our lives. 

I’ve also tried the maintain-current-schedule theory with little success as well. I would spend the whole day answering school questions or keeping toddlers out of trouble or getting laundry, dishes, meals done and the poor trainee would have an inconsistent trainer.

So, what to do?

In my brilliance (okay, not mine but the Lords!), I came up with two solutions. The first I’ve already touched on ~ keeping the other two toddlers/preschoolers involved in the training process right by my side. This has left my house reasonable clean all day (#324)! No messy playroom to pick up (#325). No toys strewed everywhere (#326). No food snuck and left sticky on tables and walls (#327). It has been wonderful and an eye opener on how our school days should go.

The second solution is guided project learning for the older ones. I needed a way to still school them without them needing me to be there. We’ve done project weeks before and the biggest challenge for me is the huge mess it creates as they “work”. The biggest challenge for them has been staying on track or not abandoning it as they are distracted by other play. I knew I could easily assign basic school work that they could independently work on but I also know their personalities and that would’ve turned into drudgery for them really fast which, in turn, would’ve led to daydreaming and getting distracted which would’ve led to me constantly nagging reminding them to get back to work and me not being focused on my trainee. I needed to keep them engaged for their 2-hour morning school block while allowing them to work independently. So I thought and planned ahead. I allowed them to check out library books that they wanted. Then I took those same books and turned them into a schoolish project that they could work on but would appeal to their individual interests and keep them going all week. It worked wonderfully (#328)! (I will post on that tomorrow!)

Both solutions allowed us to maintain our schedule better then we’ve been doing for weeks (#329). (Again, giving me great food for thought about how we “do” school.) And the best part, laundry got done (#330), dishes got done (#331), chores stayed on track (#332), I did very little yelling (#333), and my littlest ones had lots and lots and lots of mommy time (#334). And now as Ivy naps I have this incredible free time – an hour or so – before dinner needs to be made where my house is cleaned, chores are caught up, and the kids are happily playing in the playroom after all working together as a team to make sock puppets (#335-337). We have sticker charts that are being happily filled in (#338 – thank you for your customization for each child!) and I have a moment to breathe (#339). It has been a very, very good day again reminding me that when I sacrifice my own needs to meet the needs of others, my needs end up getting met exactly how I need! And all the glory goes to Him who sustained me!

Edited Addition ~ Ivy went in the potty!!!!! At exactly 8:04 her 4 older siblings started dancing joyfully around the room and she looked perplexed at the pee, perplexed at their dancing and then got it and danced joyfully herself around the room. A thrilling moment in our mundane household! (#340)


Just Breathe…

It is Sunday evening as I am writing this (to be posted on Monday morning) and I am finally breathing again. My life has been a whorl wind of activity between Adam getting a new job, refiguring finances, deciding to move, moving, unpacking, running to a million doctor/dentist appointments, doing up Halloween with the children, planning birthdays, and cleaning the house (an almost impossible task around here with so many little ones and me two weeks from giving birth) for guests.

It is Lily’s birthday today and we had lots of family over to celebrate with and see our new place. I loved that everyone had a chance to get out here during the daylight hours and find our house in the middle of the country. I loved that Lily had a wonderful day full of rich presents that are just right for her. But it wasn’t until everyone walked back out the door and quiet descended that I sat and just breathed and realized that I seemed to be holding it in. I didn’t know that I was trying to hold it all together, to get past this one date.  Now, aside from 2 more doctor appointments, I have nothing on the agenda for the next two weeks until the baby comes. We are still not “officially” doing school until he is born and I only have two more boxes to unpack and a few closets to organize, none of which have to be done right now.

I sat on my couch and looked around at my fully decorated, pretty-much put together house and thought I don’t have to work tomorrow. I can actually take the day off. I can stay in P.J.s all day long. I can read!!! (You don’t even know how rare that is!) I can let the kids just play and not worry about vacuuming. I can throw in a freezer meal (given to me today by my dear grandmother) and not worry about dinner. I can blog if I feel like it, surf if I feel like it, catch up on other blog reading that I haven’t had time for. I can sit and read to my littles over and over without that dreaded feeling of leaving something undone. I can read Lily chapters from her new book. I can have a baby. I felt this release…this sigh of my soul. Even as I write I am watching my two littles play hide and seek through a fireplace and relishing in their simple joy.

I look at this picture taken today…

…and thought how beautiful it is…how beautiful this place is that God blessed us with. I’ve know that intellectually in my head (how can you not when pulling up the blinds to this gorgeous view every morning?) but I have yet to actually experience it. Today I got that chance. I walked out to get the kids and realized the sun was just perfectly lighting up all this flora and fauna around me. The breeze caressed my skin and I felt alive…really alive, like I haven’t felt in a long time. A kiss from God. The weather was perfect. The colors were perfect. This place is perfect. Perfect for our family in this place and season of life. Perfect for our needs. Perfect for our souls.

So today I will breathe. Today I will rest.

263. Breathing again.

264. Reading Life Art…just for me, just because!

265. Pumpkin bread that someone else baked just ready to eat for breakfast.

266. Microwaves and other things that simplify my life right now.

267. Pasture-fed cows and horses that I can see out my window.

268. Our very own Hundred Acre Woods.

269. Cinnamon coffee and eggnog for creamer.

270. The happiness of a toddler and a balloon.

271. Watching my kids sketch on the front porch.

272. Seeing a real bluebird for the first time.

273. Childhood school memories of “moroccas” from the locust bean trees and seeing my children discover them for the first time.

274. Photo collages of baby photos.

275. Good fiction.

276. Excitement over seeing a crow and hearing him caw.

277. Contractions.

278. A packed baby hospital bag.

279. Mini husband coffee breaks mid morning.

280. Seeing my 18 month old mimic reading.

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him    ~ Psalm 62:5

holy experience


Summer Days

What is a summer day unless you can go outside in a brand new dress, find the one pot of water that we missed when overturning, mix a big batch of mud and cover yourselves from head to toe? Can’t imagine getting more basic then this!

247. Freedom to play as a child outside.

248. Instead of getting angry, grabbing a camera.

249. Hearing how good the mud feels between the toes.

250. Cold rinsing clothes and towels.

251. And talk about your ring around the tub!

252. Cold rinsing again the clothes and towels.

253. Cold rinsing a third time the clothes and towels.

254. Still needing spray wash and being so glad you just bought some more that afternoon.

255. Finally getting to wash the clothes and towels and being SO thankful that you have your good ‘ol top-loading washer back to wash more quickly and efficiently even if it does use up more water!

256. The biggest paper airplane ever!

258. Summer sundresses.

259. Everyone sketching in the shade of an apple tree.

260. Enjoying the basement air conditioning with friends.

261. Ice cream as a summer snack.

262. Being SO Glad (again!!!) that you bought Resolve spray and wash!

holy experience

Our New Joy

holy experience

The gift of life is brimming full here this spring. We recently found out that we are to be blessed with baby number 6! Am I ready? everyone keeps asking. Well, are you ever? But we know this is a blessing from God. His timing is perfect even if I would’ve chosen differently. His grace is sufficient even when I may feel overwhelmed. And I know that He promises that there will never be anything beyond what I can bear. He knows my strengths. He gave me children who need exactly what I have to give. He knows my weaknesses. He knows that with each blessing of a child comes visibility of my heart issues and I come running to Him with my vulnerabilities, which is exactly how He designed it. I see the family unit and see example after example of His relationship to us – how He sees us, how He wants to love us, how He only wants what’s best for us, how selfish we are in return, how we completely take for granted ALL He has provided. I see His perfection in our family’s weakness. So I am here today to, again, count my blessings before I am permanently on the couch in full fledged nausea handing out peanut butter spoons for dinner because it is a protein and fat and carbohydrate.

221) New life brimming full.

222) Nausea that means a healthy baby.

223) Morning sickness that doesn’t set in until after lunch allowing me to still school and get a few chores squeezed in.

224) A husband who smiled when I told him.

225) Craving apples.

226) Eating eggs for breakfast and dinner and sometimes a late night snack.

227) Good intentions for prenatal vitamins.

228) Hearing the banter of the kids excitement over boy or girl.

229) Taking communion and wondering whether I can keep it down. (Does it still count if I can’t? *smile*)

230) Realizing my baby is almost one.

231) The beautiful rose that my husband so sweetly bought for me.

232) The husband who can whip up an amazing omellete at 11 PM without complaint.

233) Warm weather for the kids to run in.

234) Making a spring wreath yesterday afternoon.

235) Finally taking down the Christmas wreath.

236) Two garlic shoots that came up unexpectedly from a last minute experiment with store-bought garlic after the last frost date.

237) Hearing my two-year old daughter pray.

238) Hearing the effect her prayers have on the other children.

239) Hearing my six-year old daughter’s prayers maturing unexpectedly.

240) The comfortableness of our house.

241) Brushing with baking soda.

242) A boy drawing his birds.

243) A daughter who wants to imitate her mother.

244) Lennox Easter.

245) A spring garland that’s just perfect that I found free as my husband questioned why we were bringing more junk into the house when we were trying to move it out. But he was wrong.

246) Missing the kids playing “jungle” with this garland and finding missing flowers all over the house!

Happy Spring today everyone!

Clinging to Hope

holy experience

I’m desperately clinging to a hope in spring right now. While Thursday was a blessing of warmth on my face, the weekend turned my household into a cabin-fever, horomone -spiraling mess! I feel dry and barren and am longing for a resurrection. Church feels wanting. Relationships feel old insecurities rising into new disguises. Motherhood feels stretched. I turn around and feel all that is left undone.

And as I go through this period of darkness, however short or long it rages, I will cling to His promises because it is only as I list out the gratitude that my heart can erase the ugliness I see before me. The downcast will be lifted up. The broken will be healed. New springs will grow in desert places. I thirst and will be filled.  The book of Psalms and the words of Isaiah course through me like a balm. These are the books I return to when my heart cries out.

192) Little boys with their “labor saving device” (a broken bird call).

193) Little girls playing by mamma in the bath and needing bubbles.

194) A hot bath that soothes the soul.

195) The ability to add more hot water before washing diapers for the night.

196) The invention of liquid soup, body puffs, and disposable razors!

197) Throwing the “thinned” broccoli seedlings into my omelet for dinner.

198) Carrots mysteriously growing in the garden. Late/leftover germinating seeds?

198) Unexpectedly finding out the oregano and parsley survived the winter (and that my dear husband didn’t dig them up like I thought he did!).

199) Mint that is already overtaking the garden underneath piles of mulch leaves.

200) Crushing a mint leaf in my hand and smelling a little piece of heaven.

201) Looking forward to mint sun tea this summer!

202) A compost heap that’s been working all winter without my doing anything.

203) Fresh, new compost underneath all that ugliness on top! (I feel there’s a lesson in there somewhere for me!)

204) Rain boots that we managed to buy on time this year before the stores ran out.

205) Reading outside on the porch while watching the kids play.

206) Muddy jeans and having to use Spray and Wash again in the laundry.

207) Pulling out all the spring toys and books.

208) Watching the Beatrix Potter Peter Rabbit series on DVD.

209) Seeing the kids pretend their animals are Tiggy Winkles and Jemima and Mrs. Tabitha Twitchet.

210) Seeing Lily “reading” this series to Lilah and Luc.

211) Bird playing.

212) Seeing a mama deer and an American Kestrel on the way home from church.

213) Hearing a woodpecker when I opened my windows this afternoon.

214) Seeing the first batch of seedlings pushing up through the dirt.

215) Starting the second batch of tomato seedlings.

216) Finding an old schedule unexpectedly (literally fell on my head) that, as I’m looking over, am wondering why I ever changed it around to begin with.

217) Bills paid and enough money to last until next paycheck.

218) Recognizing the sound of a chickadee outside.

219) Listening to our new bird compilation with the kids.

220) Every last pipe cleaner used to make 20 toy caterpillars.

A Drumroll Please…

holy experience

Just a quick note this morning as I count my blessings. Mainly becaue I was up so late last night accomplishing some of those blessings! (And I have a 10 month old who is trying to type at the same time I am!)

179) FINALLY GOT MY SCHEDULE DONE!!!!! (…that is until I need to revise it!)

180) Got much done in the way of orginizing the Project Room for the kids. Now, if it will just stay looking as beautiful as it does right now!

181) The day of blessing Thursday when Ivy’s fever broke and she played contentedly on the floor without clinging to my leg!

182) The double blessing of that day of sweet conversation with a dear friend!

183) The peace of letting things go.

184) New birds and the hope of spring.

185) A plan of action for history.

186) Getting all the John James Audubon library books in.

187) A new flower garland to decorate the valance for spring that came unexpectedly and free yesterday!

188) Only one patch of snow left in the yard.

189) Carved out time to sketch and read with my kids.

190) Giving my first born over to God.

191) Seeing the blessings of firsts and obedience.

The Four Pillars of Too Much

holy experience

As I am in the process of cleaning out my fridge and freezer and pantry, in order to embark on the first-of-the-month big shopping trip, everything appears cluttered, disorganized and it makes me feel panicky. It is not as if this is the first time I’ve noticed this. Every time I do I say to myself, ‘I’ll get to that next week or month or whenever I have some free available time.’ But today it dawned on me that I will never have enough free time to work on it. My life is also filled with chaos and clutter and disorganization. I am a mother of five children with open plans for more. My children are home with me all day long. Sure there is learning and joy and projects and endless reading of great worth. But there is also a stream of destruction that follows me all day as I try to keep up with the flow of household management.

We do dishes but again we eat. We do laundry but again the hamper fills up. We play outside in the joy of budding spring but drag in the mud and leftover winter debris. We do school and things get out of place, half-used, disorganized. We read so books end up in piles everywhere. We play so toys get pulled out creating death traps on the stairs. We do life and life is messy.

So how do we combat this? I ponder this daily. I know in part it is about teaching good habits and making sure everything has a place and keeping up on chores and creating a daily rhythm that works for our specific needs. But I wonder how much of it is also about having too much, always wanting more, filling our days and cupboards with too many choices – even if they are worthy and wonderful choices. Do we have breathing room?

So as I am taking a break from wiping down the freezer and writing up a shopping list to nurse a little one, my eye catches this post by Elizabeth Foss and I click the link to this book and start reading. And suddenly that peace that passes all understanding floods my soul that only happens when He places something in front of my eyes that speaks directly to my battle. And I struggle to not immediately order it (another symptom of the “too much” syndrome) but instead ponder it and wait on the Lord to see where He directs my steps.  So while I am pondering and adding this wonderful book to my Amazon wish list, I thought I’d share a few quotable nuggets with you to ponder this day too.

We are building our daily lives, and our families, on the four pillars of too much: too much stuff, too many choices, too much information, and too much speed. With this level of busyness, distractions, time pressure, and clutter (mental and physical), children are robbed of the time and ease they need to explore their worlds and their emerging selves. And since the pressures of “too much” are so universal, we are “adjusting” at a commensurately fast pace. The weirdness of “too much” begins to seem normal. If the water we are swimming in continues to heat up, and we simply adjusts as it heats, how will we know to hop out before we boil? ~ KIM JOHN PAYNE – SIMPLICITY PARENTING


We are facing an enormous problem in our lives today. It’s so big we can hardly see it, and it’s right in front of our face all day, every day. We’re all living too big lives, crammed from top to toe with activities, urgencies, and obligations that seem absolute. There’s no time to take a breath, no time to look for the source of the problem.  ~ SARA SUSANKA – THE NOT SO BIG LIFE


Simplicity is the ultimate manifestation of the spiritual gift of self-control. (one of my favorites!)


The reason that we are not fully at ease in heart and soul is because we seek rest in these things that are so little and have no rest within them, and pay no attention to our God, who is Almighty, All-wise, All-good, and the only real rest. ~ JULIAN OF NORWICH


“Do not be so given to the activity of Martha as to forget the silence of Mary. May the Virgin who so well reconciled the one with the other be your sweet model and inspiration.”  ~ ST. PIO

In a way, nobody sees a flower really, it is so small, we haven’t time—to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.” ~ GEORGIA O’KEEFE

And, last but not least,

“Who is rich?  He that rejoices in his portion.”  ~ THE TALMUD

This is where I start my week. I am tugging and pulling with simplification and need to jot down some Thanks to the Highest Order, The I AM of simplicity,  in order to bring balance to my week.

160) Finished ONE PAGE of my new schedule…only 6 more to go!

161) Went shopping with only one little one due to the beautiful sacrifice of a dear brother-in-law!

162) Kids got to visit the zoo twice in one week.

163) My camera ran out of juice so the zoo had to be about just being, not blogging or scrapbooking.

164) Hauled two garbage bags full of Garage Sale Stuff to the garage.

165) Blessed with an extra-warm house due to the efficiency of new furnace.

166) My kids did the dishes today…twice!!

167) New friends made at church for my little social butterfly.

168) Taking more time to read with the kids, even with a fussy baby.

169) Found a full tank of gas in my car on the way to church this morning just as I was thinking about how we would cover that expense this week. Thank you again, dear brother!

170) A pork roast that I didn’t cook and good company.

171) Learning about pandas and rocks and minerals.

172) A new ballet training CD arriving.

173) Math and Science tales of googles and quarks and fractals.

174) A Boy and his Cricket and the memories they evoked of my now eight-year old.

175) Baby Orajel.

176) Free Aldi’s boxes that work as bookends.

177) A full house of groceries and milk and fresh fruit.

178) One night where I slept all the way through!

May your week be filled with many blessings and may you slow down to find joy in the little things!

Hope and Awakenings

My gratitudes and thankfulness lifted up in praise as the winter dies out and spring brings to us redemption.

125) Poppies caught in the sunlight.

126) Flowers reinvisioned to bring new life to a new room.

127) Secret love letters from a dear husband who despises “Love Dare” yet walks it out in our marriage.

128) Rotisserie chicken thrown in a crockpot and forgot about coming out fork tender and juicy just in time for lunch.

129) Homemade chicken stock simmering on the stove.

130) The promise of packages and new books to tear open and into.

131) Rooms that are still not rearranged because we were too busy playing.

132) Babies in the soft glow of night.

133) Looking up to see faces peering over bed tops to say nighttime prayers.

134) Cuddles and stories at bedtime.

135) Reading independently until eyes droop closed, book falls down as night slips in.

136) Poems memorized that bring laughter and remain etched for a lifetime.

137) Melting snow.

138) The sun still out at 5:55 P.M.

139) Digging for spring.

140) Finding it.

141) The first sign of growth…even if it is the weeds!

142) My lavender plant with a touch of green…it didn’t die after all!

143) Finally getting to play in the snow.

146) New boots for the spring.

147) Lost Styracosaurus discovered under heaping mound of melting snow.

148) The first use of sidewalk chalk.

149) The first scraped knee.

150) Scooters and bikes.

151) Ordering from garden catalogs.

152) Cuddling to “Hop on Pop” with my budding four-year-old reader.

153) A laundry room floor of mud, water, and dirty mittens and pants and socks and hats because it means the beginning of spring.

154) Hot cocoa and marsmallows to make everthing right in the world.

155) A sweet girl who graced us with a nap so we could play.

156) The new Magic School Bus Dinosaur book.

157) Chocolate and Peanut Butter sandwiches for dinner.

158) Exodus 16 paired with Deuteronomy 8.

159) The fact that this long list of thank you’s and gratitudes from the heart happened in one day!

holy experience

Seeking Him First

This past week has been a weekend of growth in seeking Him first. Jesus is teaching me how to follow Deuteronomy 6 – talking to my children when they rise, along the way in the day, when they lie at night. If you are anything like me, we somehow think this needs to be a more formal thing. But I am quickly discovering, as with all of the heavy spiritual stuff, it is actually in the mundane of life.

Gabe has been struggling with the concept of miracles. I have been struggling with obeying the prompting of a new schedule. And the Lord brought us together beautifully like a perfectly played chord. As I sat with the kids (completely tired and not wanting to) and opened our Children’s Bible, we read the story of Jesus asking his disciples to cast their nets. As I am reading I feel prompted by the Spirit to talk about why he would do this. Why fish? Why something so ordinary? Why this time of day? Suddenly I remembered all Gabe’s statements about miracles only being back then and not now. As Peter says (my paraphrase), “Why now Lord when there are no fish? But yet I will do as you command.” It strikes me that he is obeying and being blessed with the ordinary in life. We somehow think that God works in the extraordinary yet we always find Him in the ordinary doing the extraordinary.

I thought of our summer filled with job loss. I thought on the myriad of ways God took care of us and provided in little ways – ways that could be construed by some as coincidental but when put together in number and order and perfect planning turn into quite the miracles! This I explained to Gabe. The ordinary fish suddenly made sense. And it began to grow in his heart that miracles are not filled with bangs and fireworks (unless they’re babies being born, of course!) but with small details attended to by a very BIG God!

Later in the morning as we are searching and searching and searching for 2 library books gone AWOL, when everyone is in tears and frustrated and angry, when our basement is piled high with couch cushions and couch crumbs blanket the floor, when toys are dumped out to find overlooked hiding spots, when under beds are emptied and the bedroom can’t be walked through due to the sheer amount of stuff piled in the middle, only then do I feel that tiny prick in my heart. I stop to hear the still small voice. And I hear,

“Why are you trying so hard? I am right here…right in the midst of this too. You can come to me, even now. I can show them that I AM even in this minor irritation. Can you show them how to look for me right now?”

So I gather everyone around and we pray. We pray our eyes and minds will be opened to new spots. It was not a fancy prayer. It was not a long prayer. It did not “sound” like a spiritual prayer. Yet ten minutes later, after we had spent over 6 hours looking, the books fell into our laps. The kids eyes were bugging out of their head. They remembered our morning reading about miracles in the ordinary. They remembered our many talks on God not answering prayer right away. And Gabe, in awe, whispered that he’d never have to wonder about miracles again. God really does answer prayer! Oh how my heart praised! For it had nothing to do with library books at all, but everything to do with a parent being there talking, listening, and pointing to the Savior that we want our children to drink from. For this I am thankful!

88) Prayers answered no matter how trivial they seem.

89) Little hearts open to HIM who fills.

90) The Golden Guide Children’s Bible that knows a child can handle the big language of the Word, not the dumbed-down wording of most children’s bible stories.

91) For music that feeds the soul.

92) For acts of charity that seem to stretch us and demand more then we are able to give.

93) For Doxology’s and Ancient Hymns.

94) For trash out before I’m bleared-eyed in the morning.

95) For a little girl who says “pppooookkkeeeyyy” (translated spooky) with the finger wriggling to go with.

96) For the Morning Dew that can take us through a day when all looks parched.

97) A husband who suggests videos that grow us together.

98) The weight of deep sleep against my arms.

99) For recycled paper and ideas that turn the ordinary into exactly what I need.

100) For audio books that fill little ears with unabridged beautiful language.

101) The bird I heard chirping amidst the snow signaling the first sign of spring’s return.

102) Crunchy vegetables to satisfy cravings as the comforted heaviness of winter’s food wanes.

103) Monks who are teaching me how to lay down my life.

104) Spontaneous questions that can only come with having a whole day in front of us with no outside commitments.

105) Mismatched, eclectic musical styles – the real, the Holy, the self-focused, the deeply moving, the crazy dancing jigs – because I can’t figure out how to organize my itunes.

106) Long winded words of females I respect and trust who make me pause and reconsider and who lead me to new, longer winded words that knock the breath out of me.

107) My baby who is suckling and not sleeping like she’s suppose to be.

108) Reflections of birth stories and journaling and speaking with purpose.

109) HIS hand right in front of my face – a centimeter away – and, Yes!, I can feel it.

110) A pouring out of love at 1ish in the morning.

111) Little girls who wake up dry.

112) A boy who wrote his very first letter.

113) And who spelled his very first word on my fridge.

114) Space museum, Zoo, and Forest playdates to look forward to.

115) A big brother who read a bedtime story to an eager little sister.

116) A big sister who delights in playing with the baby while mommy is working.

117) Ice in water quenching my parched throat.

118) No runny noses or meds to dole out.

119) Getting the bills done in one sitting of the baby’s nap.

120) Being credit card debt free!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

121) Owing nothing to the hospital.

122) Still being delighted by snow crystals on the window pane.

123) Waking up to sunshine instead of darkness.

124) My handmade rose curtains that still delight me to look through.

holy experience